How to turn your lack of experience into relevant experience on the job hunt

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You probably feel like you don’t have any “relevant” experience. Getting through school is tough enough, and then there’s volunteer work, sports, working to earn some extra cash

It sounds clichéd, but it’s the age-old dilemma: no job, no experience…no experience, no job.

Whether you realize it or not, you have so much experience! You may not think of it that way, but all the things that kept you busy as a student are the things employers want to hear about.

I’ve been working since I was 15 years old to feed my consumer habit. At age 22, when I turned around to look at all the work I had done, it didn’t make a lot of sense: grocery store clerk, movie store clerk, latte server, boat cruise bartender and manager, and (my personal favourite) dance teacher.

But I was determined to get hired by a prestigious consulting firm. And I did just that.

This is how:

  • I did my research on what the companies I was targeting wanted and found it in my ‘thin’ resume.
  • During interviews I spoke about my hectic school/work/friends schedule and my strategies for managing it all. I showed organized thought.
  • I demonstrated how quickly I had been promoted in my part-time jobs. I showed a willingness and ability to learn.
  • I told animated stories of troubling group work in university that had everyone laughing. I showed teamwork and a sense of humour.
  • I gave examples of organizing the coffee shop into a cappuccino assembly line at peak times. I showed leadership and drive.

In every role I had I’d done something to try to make things better. I had to think about it a little bit, but I found stories which showed all the ways I would add value to an organization.

Everyone has stories about what they have accomplished and how they have contributed to a better workplace – and that is what you should focus on. Knowing the jargon will come in time, but exhibiting the key values and strengths that an organization is looking for before you’re even asked to… that makes you exciting to a recruiter.

Photo credit: gorriti

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